Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lessons in haircolor

I was born a blonde, a beautiful blonde with curls and pink cheeks and long eyelashes.

In the name of all that is just, WHAT HAPPENED??!!

I became a brunette by age six and got progressively darker as the years went on. Until I hit about thirty-eight, when I happened to look in the mirror and notice that there was another color staking its claim on my head, pushily. Obnoxiously.


I thought I would be okay with turning grey, but it turns out that I'm not. Who knew? When I was younger, I could totally see myself with two long grey braids and a pair of tiny, blue-lensed glasses, or conversely, a nice, dignified chignon with pearls. I have a friend with really pretty salt-and-pepper hair, always fashionably styled and she wears it well. But she doesn't have this crazy mass of twirling, curling irritating hair. If my hair were a person, it would be tattooed with lots of facial piercings and wearing hipster jeans with a thong sassily showing itself above the waistband, braless and barefoot. It would no more consent to lying down respectably on my head like my friend's hair does than the Pope would consent to saying Mass in a pink tutu.

So I color it, making sure to go a shade lighter than my "natural" hair color, which is the color my hair was through my twenties and thirties. My late mother-in-law (God rest her) was a hairdresser and she warned me that too many ladies hang on to their natural haircolor for far too long, leading to the confusing sight of a group of eighty year old ladies at the bridge table, three of them grey or white and one with the vivid hair of a thirty year old. As we age, everything fades: eyes, eyelashes and eyebrows, lip color, cheek color...we have to be prepared to take everything down a notch when we hit middle age, Verna used to say, or we'll look garish, like vaudeville performers when seen backstage.

I've taken everything down a notch in the past few years. I wear brown mascara instead of black. I use pink blush instead of the deep rose I used for years. Same way with lip gloss or lipstick. Instead of the black fingernail polish I usually favor, I've moved to a medium-blue shade.

(I was just kidding about that last part.)

Today, I was long overdue for a color job; I had a quarter-inch of grey roots that were making me cringe every time I looked in the mirror. I had two boxes of Clairol Grey Solutions 6A (my hair is both thick and long-ish and won't settle for just one box, oh no no no no...) It doesn't take much time and gives me a good excuse to sit still for 25 minutes and read my book - no one will come near me with the strong smell of the dye on my head. I washed it out, conditioned it, and now I can't leave it alone because it feels and smells so good. It turned out well; I really like the Clairol brand. I feel that I am definitely worth the L'Oreal, but I don't like the grey coverage I get with it. Sometimes it "takes" for me and sometimes it doesn't.

For another four to six weeks, I am covered. Then I'll do my roots, and four weeks after that I'll color my whole head again, a never-ending process. Just like the rest of womandom, with all the waxing, the bleaching, the polishing, the smoothing, the moisturizing, the plucking, the conditioning....It's kind of like being a farmer, I think.


Lilly said...

Hey cousin,

If you have wild-woman hair, I got the lazy-skank-with-a-cigarette-hanging-from-the-corner-of-the-mouth hair. My limp locks stayed sort of blond through my 20s and gradually turned mouse-colored -- like dishwater with flecks of gray pork chop bits swimming around. So I, too, do the hair-color thing every six weeks or so.

For a while I got highlights from a beauty salon, but that got too expensive, what with gas prices almost as expensive as milk by the gallon. So I turned to Nice 'N Easy.

Enter the bright orange clown hair.

The first time I used color-from-a-box, I thought "golden blond" would be perfect. That's what I had back in the '70s, so why not now? I colored my hair one morning before work (I go in at 1 p.m.) and when I dried it I looked like Carrot Top's straight-haired granny. Imagining the smart-aleck comments from the bozos I work with, I called the hotline number on the hair-color box. The sympathetic customer rep said to use Nice 'N Easy "neutral blond" with half developer and half shampoo. I sped off to Target and took my antidote to the express checkout and recolored my hair just in time to leave for work. I still got some "What happened to your hair?" comments from the thoughtful guys who sit next to me, but at least I didn't blind them with pumpkin-colored locks. I was blonder than usual, but that just gave me an excuse to return their dingbat comments with my own blonde jokes.

Do I still color my hair? You betcha. And I still use Nice 'N Easy Light Neutral Blond. I'm forever loyal after their customer rep kept me out of the circus.

Shelley said...

LILLY!!! You are such a hoot.

Lazy-skank-with-a-cigarette... bwwaaahahahahahaha!!!!

I think your hair color is very nice and your cute pixie cut is perfect for a petite little thing like you.

My mom had bright orange clown hair once -- ON PURPOSE. I had to sit her down and have a gentle little talk with her.